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Covid-19 - Finding a Renewed Focus

by Jackie Lewis

by Jackie Lewis

Course Development Director, MOTIF

Is anybody else waking up in the morning now thinking ‘what is it I do, and will I still be doing the same thing in the future?’ Compounded by a fear of not even having a job we are challenging the value of our roles and questioning if we have the skills to adapt to a new world of work.

As statistics build and we are faced with the realism that Covid-19 will be a game changer for the apparel & fashion industry, confidence is at an all-time low not only for the industry, but also for each of us as individuals. 

But out of all adversity comes opportunity as they say, so how do we begin to turn around our fortunes and get back on the bike, with renewed focus and the right skills?

Is this an opportunity to reconsider why we came into this industry in the first place, how we have seen it change and what we want from it for the future?

I was listening to an excellent webinar recently by Andrew J Scott from the London School of Business which focused on the economic impact of Covid-19, and something he said really resonated with me. Andrew is quoted as saying that language has shifted from describing the workforce in terms of skilled and unskilled to essential and non-essential workers. Hence, I’ve been asking myself that very question…

Am I an essential worker?

“Am I an essential worker?” Maybe too much time thinking gives rise to self-reflection and unproductive thoughts, but I feel this question is worthy of further discussion. 

It starts with describing in no more than 30 words, who you are and what you do.

I’ll kick us off. “Hello, I’m Jackie Lewis, Course Development Director at Motif, with a career spanning almost 30 years in apparel technical design and product development, I now focus on sustainability and professional development.” 

Most of you are probably thinking ‘what does that even mean? ‘And when I look back, irritatingly people have been asking me this for many years. After all, it’s difficult to describe the role of a technical developer in layman’s terms to people who don’t work in our industry. 

‘Oh, so you’re a buyer’ they said and reluctantly I often agreed– it  was just easier. 

So why all the fuss suddenly? Why am I feeling a loss of purpose and questioning the value I bring? Is it simply because for the first time in my career I’m asking the question of myself?

Is my experience still relevant and are these skills essential when the development and production of fashion has been stalled, orders have been cancelled, and stock is frozen in warehouses worldwide. 

Key Skills Revisited – what’s important during this crisis

Just a few months ago, at Motif we were talking about the key Macro trends that were shaping the future of work and how the apparel and fashion industry had been slow to react to the need for automation, AI, digitisation and personalisation. 

We forecasted that the top five skills to look for in product design and development teams of the future were digital process flow, 3D CAD skills, problem solving based on data insight, innovative thinking and understanding of lean manufacturing.

Switching back to today, people are now asking ‘Are these skills still relevant under the current circumstances and how can they help me?’

I believe they are more relevant now than ever before and here’s why…because we need open minded people with experience to collaborate and lead us through this crisis. So don’t down tools, people like me please stand up and make your contribution.

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